OSD deal rejected by 91% of doctors

2009-07-15 00:00

THE South African Medical Association (Sama) has rejected the latest occupation-specific dispensation (OSD) offer from the government after a poll showed that 91% of Sama’s public sector doctors are against it.

Out of 2 484 votes cast in a secret ballot, 223 accepted and 2 261 rejected the OSD — a revised salary structure applicable to the public service — which was signed off by the Health Department on June 30.

Sama national spokesman Dr Norman Mabasa told The Witness yesterday that the rejection is “not unexpected” given that the OSD offer does not meet the expectations of “ordinary” doctors — the medical officers who make up about 12 000 of the country’s 15 000 public sector doctors.

In a statement yesterday, Sama chairwoman Professor Denise White said the committee for public sector doctors is in discussions with Cosatu unions and the government to have a special resolution taken, in order to address the demands of medical officers and specialists not covered by the current proposal.

Sama will also consult a labour expert about alternative legal options if a resolution does not materialise, she added.

Other unions in the public service co-ordinating bargaining council — including mineworkers’, nurses’ and other healther workers’ representatives — have until next week on Tuesday to accept or reject the latest OSD offer.

The offer also applies to dentists, pharmacists, pharmacist assistants and emergency medical staff.

White said the objective of the OSD is to retain those doctors already working in the public sector and to attract doctors into a career in public sector health care.

“It is therefore essential that in implementing the OSD, all categories of manag­er, saying the appointment letter is being drafted.

“We had to rearrange and remove the leadership at Edendale to improve the hospital. We need a manager who is going to do a good job. He has to hit the road running so that services can resume,” he said.

Dhlomo blamed the Health Department for not filling the hospital’s chief executive office post with urgency.

To help alleviate the long waiting lines at the hospital, Dhlomo said, patients will be fast-tracked to other clinics in the area. A special initiation team comprising a doctor, nurse and a psychologist will then visit each of these clinics to initiate the roll-out process.

“We are hoping to expand the hospital’s current pharmacy and bring in more pharmacists to help dispense the medication. We want to assure our patients that this process will not be slow,” he said.

Dispensing times will also be extended to allow patients to pick up pre-packed medication.

At Addington Hospital in Durban, Dhlomo was confronted by angry patients who had waited in long queues to collect their medication.

More than 2?000 patients were waiting outside the hospital at 7?am when Dhlomo and area manager Dr Mandla Mhlongo visited the hospital.

The hospital is also experiencing a severe staff shortage in the pharmacy department.

Addington has also been operating without a medical manager since September 2008 when the incumbent retired.

“This situation is unacceptable. … Patients raised their concerns to me and there are processes in place to rectify things,” he said.

Private pharmacists would be brought in to help.

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